Four questions for Theresa Sims
Trade show booth spreads U.S. World War One Centennial Commission message
By Erica Goldaber
Theresa Sims is the Director of Strategic Relations for the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission.
1. What are the main goals of the booth effort?
The main goal of the booth outreach is to create awareness about the World War One Centennial Commission’s efforts to honor and memorialize the 4.7 million who served and the 116,516 who gave their lives for our great nation. This effort allows one on one contact to help educate senior leaders, decision makers, and citizens about the Great Sacrifice and the War to End all Wars. It also creates public awareness, interest, and support for the future National Memorial for World War I at Pershing Park. Given that we’re a few months ahead of the 100 year anniversary of President Wilson’s “Call to Arms” in April 6, 2017, we are handing out Flanders poppy seeds packets as a reminder to “plant the seeds to remember” the upcoming commemoration of U.S. entry to WW1.
2. How successful is the booth in achieving its goal(s)?
The booth has been very successful in achieving its goals, particularly in educating the public and government sectors. During the period of August to September, 2016 through 4 outreach events we connected with more than 10,000 visitors in person and thousands of impressions in social media, and met about 150 senior leaders who will help with our efforts in many ways. We also strengthened existing relationships with Veteran Service Organizations like the American Legion, VFW, and Disabled American Veterans, as well as the defense sector such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, Rolls-Royce, and AECOM to name a few. In fact, since August, the WW1 Centennial Commission team staffed booths at the American Legion Annual Meeting in Cincinnati; George Washington 9-11 Patriot Day Annual Run, at Mount Vernon, VA; Air Force Association Air, Space, and Cyber Convention in National Harbor, Maryland; and Library of Congress National Book Festival, DC Convention Center. Look for us next week at the Association of United States Army Annual Meeting, October, 3rd-5th, in Washington, DC.
And, we’re collecting stories. Many visitors have enthralled with stories about relatives who served in WW1 which helps strengthen our collective Commission narrative. We’ve also been able to connect to world historical thought leaders. For example, last Saturday at the Library of Congress 2016 National Book Festival, the WW1CC staff and interns Josh Venuti and Ryan Brushingham got to meet Ken Burns!
3. How do people perceive the booth?
One of the most exciting aspects of our booth outreach at events and conventions is the enthusiastic reception we receive by visitors. Thousands have stopped by the booth and chatted with our interns, volunteers, and subject matter experts, Rich Shaffer, David Hamon, Jim Boyle, and David W. Shuey (a.k.a. General “Black Jack” Pershing) about a variety of topics ranging from Stories of Service, education newsletters, WW1 books, 100 Cities // 100 Memorials, our website resources (ww1cc.org/tools) DDuring the National Book Festival, Dr. Mitch Yockelson, author of the book, 47 Days and leading WWI1 expert took a shift at the booth to answer questions from festival goers.
4. What is the most effective way to get people to check out the booth?
We use every means possible to attract people to the booth including: social media @ww1cc for Twitter, Facebook; displaying authentic World War One artifacts; and giving away Flanders poppy seeds. The most successful way to get people’s interest is the poppy seeds packets.
Erica Goldaber is a Fall 2016 Summer Interns at the World War One Centennial Commission.